We’ve all seen them in desktop and web apps — the “Are you sure” dialogue box.
Whenever I see one I cringe. To me it’s a sign of a product that is poorly designed and that does not care about my time.
My issues with it are that it’s second guessing me (and who likes that) and that’s it’s interrupting my flow, but mainly, that there’s a much better option.
More undo, less “Are you sure?”
Providing an undo means you’re not second guessing the user, that you’re allowing them to flow through the task they are completing with ease, without interrupting their cognitive fluency.
In the unlikely event that the user takes an action they didn’t mean or regret, you’re empowering them to roll back.
The main reason you see these dialogues is that they take a lot less engineering time and, having worked for a number of startups, I must confess I’ve designed a few of them in my day, albeit begrudgingly.
I’m not saying they don’t have a place completely either, there are scenarios where they are appropriate and it doesn’t make business sense to build an undo but these situations are few and far between these days.
If you find an “Are you sure?” dialogue in your app, ask your team if they are sure and remind them that undos have been around in interfaces for over 40 years.